Sharing a Nanny: A Viable Childcare Option for Canadian Parents
A New Approach to Child Care
Parents in Canada are finding that sharing a nanny with another parent is a good solution to child care needs.
Arranging childcare is among the most daunting challenges that today’s parents face. Day care is often the first alternative explored, and for many, day care is a workable solution. However, parents with more than one child are likely to discover that due to space limitations, their children may have to be enrolled in different daycares. This can be traumatic for children accustomed to being with their siblings, especially multi-birth sibs such as twins and triplets. Additionally, the logistics of transporting children to more than one daycare, twice a day, is an added burden that many parents don't want to take on.
Nanny Related Links
- Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada
Association representing Canada's nanny agencies.
- Working temporarily in Canada: Live-In Caregiver Program
To work as a live-in caregiver in Canada, the person must make an application to the Live-In Caregiver Program. Successful applicants receive a work permit.
- International Nannies and Care Givers Ltd.
Canada's premier nanny referral and placement agency for nannies and other care givers.
The Shared Nanny Solution
Hiring a live in or live out nanny is the solution to many parents. With a nanny, the children receive quality care within their own home. Parents have the peace of mind that comes with knowing their children are well cared for, according to their preferred parenting practices. They are also freed from the chore of arranging transportation to and from day care centers.
A nanny is less expensive than you might think – especially in the case of parents with more than one child. In this situation, according to Manuela Gruber Hersch, the General Manager of International Nannies & Homecare Ltd., the costs associated with hiring a nanny may be similar to that of day care expenditures. International Nannies & Homecare Ltd. is Canada’s largest nanny agency.
However, some families, especially those with only one child, may hesitate to employ a nanny, believing that the process is both expensive and time consuming. In this case, Gruber Hersch says that arranging a nanny-share situation with another family may be an ideal solution.
In a shared nanny arrangement, you still receive all the benefits that go along with having a nanny. The children remain in their home. They receive one-on-one attention. Your parenting practices are observed. All this for only half of the cost and half of the administrative tasks.
How to Choose the Right Shared Nanny Family
However, a shared nanny arrangement can be problematic, unless you take care to go about it in the right way. As is true with everything in life, the more people involved, the greater the likelihood of conflicts and problems occurring.
“Start out by being sure that the partner-family has a similar approach to parenting as you do,” advises Gruber Hersch.
Before you enter into an arrangement, have a serious discussion about issues that will arise once the nanny is hired.
Clarifying Issues such as the following will get you off to a good start:
- Nutrition. How do you want meal times to be handled? Do you intend to leave prepared food for the nanny to heat up for the children? Do you permit processed food? Sweets? Pop? If one family advocates all natural, organic foods and the other family leans towards frozen pizza pops, troubles in the arrangement will show up quickly.
- Activities: What activities do you want the nanny to do with your children? Do you expect your children to have plenty of outdoor time with games and exercise, or do you want them to be exposed to indoor activities such as arts and crafts projects? If one family is a big fan of artistic pursuits and the other wants the children to spend the time more energetically, the scene is set for conflicts.
- TV and Video Games: What’s your expectation regarding time spend watching television or playing video games? Obviously, differences of opinions here can lead to problems.
- Logistics: In whose home will the child care take place? Will you switch homes according to a schedule or will the child care take place in one home consistently? If the latter, how will you ensure an equitable arrangement? Will housekeeping be required of the nanny? If yes, which family is responsible to pay for the housekeeping.
These are just some of the issues to be addressed before entering into a nanny share arrangement.
Also, how will these factors affect the traits and qualities that you hope to find in a nanny?
“Agreeing on these is the first step,” admonished Gruber Hersch. “If you come up against problems now chances are you only will continue to throughout the nanny-share.”
Gruber Hersch stressed that once you have located a suitable family with whom to share a nanny, your next step is to meet with that family and have a frank discussion about the arrangement. Among other things, discuss the hours and times when both families require child care. This should include drawing up a contract or written agreement as to costs, payments and expenditures. Vacation and sick pay should be discussed as well.
Reaching agreement on such issues in advance will go far to resolve future conflicts between the families. However, that is not the only advantage. Having these agreements in place will make it easier to communicate your expectations to the nanny. Knowing these agreements at the outset will make it much easier for her to perform her job well and to provide the quality care you expect.
If you are not entirely sure that you have a workable arrangement, Gruber Hersch recommended a trial arrangement for a period of one month. At the end of a month, you will know if the children, families and schedules are compatible, and you will have the chance to address any unforeseen and unpredicted problems.
In a longer term agreement, it is advisable to schedule regular meetings with the other set of parents to clarify and discuss any issues that may arise. If you have successfully navigated the process to this point, it would be a shame to let things fall apart now. “Identify and find solutions to problems while they are still little problems,” Gruber Hersch finished. “Don’t wait until they get too big to fix.”